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Could Bowling Leagues and the PTA Breed Nazis?

July 30 (Bloomberg) -- In recent decades, many social scientists have drawn attention to the importance of “social capital.” The term is meant to capture the value, economic and otherwise, that comes from social networks, through which people frequently interact with one another. But what if social capital ends up contributing to the rise of extreme movements, including fascism?

It is well-established that individuals and societies can gain a great deal from civic institutions, such as parent-teacher associations, athletic leagues, churches and music clubs. High levels of social capital have been associated with numerous social benefits, including improvements in health, promise-keeping, trust, altruism, compliance with the law, child welfare and individual happiness.